Cogno AI

From almost bankruptcy to $1M in revenue in 2.5 years: Cogno AI

Like a plot from a Silicon Valley drama, Cogno AI flipped the script from teetering on the financial abyss to banking $1 million in revenue in a brisk 2.5 years.

A fresh-faced grad, Aman Goel (and his co-founder) launched an AI startup with dreams far bigger than their bank account (not uncommon right?).

Fast forward a bit, and they're staring down the barrel of a cashless gun, with just $1,400 to their name, thanks to a co-founder's dramatic exit..

But how did this happen?

They started off in April 2017 as an AI Enterprise service startup that developed custom AI/ML-driven solutions for large enterprises.

It turns out that service businesses are really hard to scale. Aman found that whilst a great cash cows for people are just starting up it was just unscalable to manage.

Intense pressure, no team, lack of money and lack of support hit with the co-founder leaving in August 2018.

To keep the company going Aman had to pay off his co-founder, leaving approximately $1400 in the bank.


Aman shovels $7,000 of hard-earned freelancing cash into the company's nearly empty coffers.

It was either that or shut up shop.

Whilst he had 4 paying clients, he didn't enjoy explaining the move to his parents - they freaked out.

Fast forward to March 2021, and bam—$1 million in revenue, 80 remote warriors in their digital army, all without a dime of external funding.

Sounds like a fantasy, right?

Here's how he did it.

Aman Goel honoured by the Ministry of Information Technology
Aman Goel honoured by the Ministry of Information Technology

Aman realised he had too many fingers and too many pies to get anything done.

Before the co-founders exit here's what they were doing:

  1. An AI conversational ChatBot.
  2. A platform leveraging chat interfaces for cognitive analysis of data.
  3. A platform focused on searching documents and aggregating data.
  4. ...blah
  5. ...blah
  6. ...blah
  7. ...blah

Way too many things right? I got bored writing them out!

So he cut everything off, and focused just on the ChatBot solution.

The ChatBot.

At the time he had an intern, a full time software engineer, his a new cofounder and him. So 4 people.

They spent about three months working on the platform and it started to take shape pretty well. They were using their knowledge built up from the year and a half service based business.

One of their existing clients called for a meeting with their head of recruitment.

Aman Showed him the platform and he loved it. He immediately onboarded it to his team, and the ball was rolling.

Land and Expand

Soon after the ChatBot got referred, they had a couple more clients.

They realised they had a loaded bomb. They realised that once it was in the hands of a VP-level person, the ChatBot would get referred out.

So they changed the pricing model to a subscription based model, priced in such a way that of VP-level person can approve it within their budget.

Since this was enterprise sales, 1 large client is equivalent to 50 business teams, and he was able to sell a bot to each of them.

The Legal Agreement Problem

Anyone familiar with enterprise sales knows that legal is a pain in the backside.

Aman realised that once it was approved in one team it doesn't need to be approved again and it can be rolled out to the rest of the Org.

He kept the agreement short 1-pager. This meant the legal demons within enterprise didn't have as much to sink their teeth into and so the process was a lot shorter than it could have been.

They realised this early in the journey and it worked like a charm.


 Eventually the chat bots were able to handle a variety of different use cases:

  1. Customer Support Bot
  2. Employee Support Bot
  3. Recruitment Bot
  4. Field Agent Support Bot
  5. Lead Generation Bot
  6. WhatsApp Bot
  7. Voice Bot on Alexa and Google Assistant
  8. Bot for Privilege Banking Agents
  9. Bot for Relationship Managers
  10. Bot for Call center agents

By May 2021 they had around 85 team members and were growing fast.


One pretty dam impressive story, and the lesson that Enterprise sales can be big dollar once you get one teeny weeny foot in the door!

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